The Colombian government said on Monday it was suspending a ceasefire with rebels accused of recently killing four indigenous people – at least three of them minors – as they tried to avoid forced recruitment in the south of the country.
President Gustavo Petro’s administration said in a statement that the military would resume attacks against factions of the FARC-EMC group operating in the provinces of Caqueta, Putumayo, Guaviare and Meta, due to the group’s lack of commitment to the ceasefire. fire.
“If a bilateral ceasefire is not effective in protecting the life and integrity of the entire population in certain territories, then there is no point in persisting,” the statement said.
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The government has said, however, it will continue to maintain ceasefires with the FARC-EMC in other parts of the country where attacks on civilians have decreased, and said it will soon appoint delegates to lead peace talks with the rebel group. .
Indigenous organizations accused the FARC-EMC last week of killing four people who had fled one of the group’s camps in Putumayo province, where they had been recruited into the organization. The government said at least three of them were minors.
On Saturday, President Gustavo Petro’s administration said the killings were a war crime and an “assault on the peace” and added that the attacks on Colombia’s indigenous people were “inexcusable”.
The FARC-EMC are led by former commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia who have refused to join a 2016 peace deal with the Colombian government in which more than 14,000 fighters have given up their weapons.
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The Petro administration ordered the Colombian military to cease attacks on several armed groups in the country on December 31, as part of an effort to start simultaneous peace talks with several groups.
But the strategy, described by Petro as “total peace”, has so far yielded few results. While violence between the military and armed groups has ceased in some parts of the country, attacks against civilians continue.
In March, a ceasefire with the criminal organization known as the Gulf Clan broke down after the group resisted government efforts to crack down on illegal mines.
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Meanwhile, the country’s largest remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, rejected the government’s initial ceasefire offer and recently suspended peace talks after Petro said the his younger commanders were motivated not by political goals but by the profits of drug trafficking.